La dolce vita, the sweet life, is alive and well in Italy. All ages seem to have a knack for squeezing every drop of enjoyment they can out of daily life with ease. They are a hard-working, life-loving, story-telling people. I’m convinced that it is a part of the Italian DNA. Good vibrations just keep on happening. And the most interesting thing of all is that I have noticed this in particularly among the elderly. They understand how to slow down and enjoy the simple things.
The lady of the adorable house above came out to greet me as I lingered in front to admire her vibrant flower gardens and pretty blue shutters. She spoke no English, but welcomed me with a warm smile as she put her arm around me for a photo. She was delighted to meet admirers of her little home. Neatly dressed and adorned with earrings, she was such a pleasure to meet.
In Monteleone d’Orvieto, Umbria, I had the pleasure of a chance encounter with this gentleman taking a mid-afternoon break. He had found a little place to sit on the threshold of a door. His smile warmed my heart.
The ‘men’s club of Squinzano’, in Puglia, was in full swing as I crossed the main piazza early one evening. In fact, there were three or four groups of them sitting together in circles. They grinned, smiled and waved while they continued to converse with each other. I wondered what the wives were up to, and I figured that they were probably home getting dinner made or conversing with their lady friends. As I passed through the piazza later that evening when dusk was beginning to settle in, there was not one piece of evidence that they had been there. Every chair was gone.
Tidy homes with smiling ladies at the door is a common sight in the villages. Thresholds are always neatly swept and adorned with lovely potted plants. Draperies of lace often decorate a doorway to allow the shutters to stay open on warm days. They are proud of their homes.
As I have watched and encountered the elderly in Italy, my fear of growing older has dramatically diminished. Where I tend to focus on age, they seem to embrace the quality of life. A gregarious people by nature, they are experts at making everyday life a joy and a pleasure. These elderly people aren’t watching life go by, they are engaged in living life and giving life to their friends and neighbors. I began to understand that it isn’t wealth, but health that matters in the latter years….and the ability to embrace the sweet life with a vibrant spirit.